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With the boys locker room incident coming to light, there are a number of things I want my son to know. However, here are seven most important ones.
The first time that I came across the ‘Bois Locker Room’ incident, I was horrified! My second reaction was, “Well, that’s not surprising!” In a country where misogyny is a way of life for most, it is really not hard to believe that teenage boys from influential schools think so degradingly of women.
Despite the fact that these kids come from well-educated, wealthy families, it is easy to claim that they haven’t been brought up well. It also easy to blame it all on the society, which has been my usual response too. But now that I am a mother to a son and such incidents have begun to have a stronger and deeper impact on me.
It worries me that my son is born into such a society. And I wonder if I will be able to teach him the right things about each of the genders. It worries me that, no matter what I teach him, he will be unable to stand up to the pressure of toxic masculinity. Whether it is by the society or peers, at school, college or even as an adult, toxic masculinity could pressure him any time. But I do hope I can help him understand these things about girls.
In fact, any individual, other than your own self, is not your property – not your parents, not your partner, not your spouse, not even your kids! So you have no right to make choices for them. And neither do get to tell them how to live their life or judge how they choose to do so. You always need to respect them, even if they are different than you.
How a girl chooses to dress does not define her or her character. But how you choose to perceive it or speak about it definitely defines your. So choose wisely.
When a girl says no, it means no! Before you choose to enter the world of dating, educate yourself on consent in interpersonal relationships. Whether it is formal or casual, and the various connotations related it. Learn these and act accordingly.
Girls don’t owe you anything– even when they are in a relationship with you. They do not owe you their bodies, their beliefs, their intellect, neither their past nor their future.
Any part of themselves they choose to share with you is entirely up to THEM. And they will always be the rightful owners of it – be it their body or any representation of it. Never you!
If something bothers you in this respect, you are always free to talk about it to them or choose to end the relation if your perspectives do not match. But nothing, I repeat, NOTHING entitles you to any part of her body, mind or soul. And that is why there can be no place in your relationship for any kind of coercion, violence, blackmail, disregard or breach of trust.
Any kind of jokes about any kind of sexual assault, harassment or abuse are not done. They are tasteless and just not done. Ever!
No matter what the media tries to sell you, any manifestation of violence in a relationship is NOT okay. Neither in anger, in rejection and definitely not in love. NOTHING can justify violence, ever! Period.
Sexism is not cool. Misogyny is not cool. Patriarchy is not cool. What is cool is to understand these terms and live a life where they aren’t a part of your life. It is cool to ensure that sexism, patriarchy and misogyny have no space in your personality or thoughts either.
Peer pressure is ugly. To give into it is easy and even uglier. When the pressure you face opposes your value system, no matter how difficult it feels, always stand up against it.
Your so-called ‘friends’ will not remain in your life forever but your conscience will. When things get more overwhelming than you can handle, I hope you always come and find me, or anyone else you can trust. If you don’t find that person in your circle of trust, always, always seek a therapist to talk it out. There is no shame in that, ever!
It is alright if you don’t end up successful in your life, it is alright if you do not end up as brave or wise or kind as I wish for you to be. What I sincerely hope you do not turn out to be, is a spineless waste of a man. Be anything in life but THAT.
I love you and I hope you always find the wisdom and the courage to do the right thing in your life.
A version of this was earlier published here.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Helicopter Eela
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I am a Development Consultant, PhD student of Social Sciences, Military spouse and a feminist
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